Is Your Privacy Under Pressure? This is What You Can Do About It


A person’s sex life may sadly be a focus of prurient interest and gossip but there are few things that are more private. The High Court made that point in coming to the aid of a married man whose affair with a woman he met on a dating website was said to have come with an anxiety-inducing sting in the tail.

The woman, who was also married, was alleged to have reacted furiously to the end of the affair. The man asserted that she had, amongst other things, posted explicit photos and videos of him online. She was said to have published a blog revealing compromising details of their relationship and to have made indirect threats of violence. She had, he alleged, sought to communicate with his wife and others and to blackmail him for a substantial sum of money.

After he launched proceedings, the Court noted that the case was at a preliminary stage and that it had yet to hear the woman’s account of events. She had been highly critical of the man’s conduct and, after becoming pregnant, she had asserted that the child was his. Sadly, she subsequently suffered a miscarriage. She understandably wished to exercise her freedom of expression rights by telling her story to others in order to obtain comfort or support or for other reasons.

In granting a temporary pre-trial injunction against her, however, the Court found that such rights could, for the time being, be exercised in a way that did not impinge on the man’s privacy or that of his wife. The woman’s activities were said to have caused the couple much anxiety and embarrassment and the Court noted that their privacy rights, once destroyed, could not be recouped.

Whilst acknowledging the one-sided nature of the evidence currently before it, the Court found that the couple were likely to establish at trial that she had intentionally and progressively blackmailed and harassed them and intruded on their private lives. The man’s name and personal details and the fact of his involvement in the affair were private matters which required protection, at least until the trial of the action.

The Court noted that the woman would, during the trial, have a fair opportunity to put her case and to argue that her freedom of expression rights should prevail. The injunction, amongst other things, forbade her from disclosing details of the affair to anyone other than her legal advisers. She was restrained from pursuing any course of conduct amounting to harassment and from publishing any information that might identify the man and his wife as parties to the proceedings.

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